This is Moby Dick Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck (summary).
Vocabulary Words found in this chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck (Vocabulary Words)

Previous Chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 35: The Mast-Head (summary)

Shortly after breakfast, Captain Ahab walked upon the deck, apparently like what most sea-captains do. And as he walked back and forth, Ishmael noticed that his deep thoughts started to possess him; it even reflected on his steps. 

After several hours, Ahab went into his cabin and shortly, came back out with the same expression on his face. Near sunset, Ahab ordered Starbuck to gather everybody. Ahab gives this order only during extraordinary cases, so this curioused Starbuck. Still, Ahab repeated his order and gathered everybody, including those at the mast-head. 

As the whole crew eyed him, Ahab continued to walk back and forth on deck, as if nobody’s watching him. Soon, he asked them what they’ll do if they see a whale; they replied to sing out for the whale. While Ahab asked this and the next seemingly purposeless questions, he became more and more fiercely glad; the crew curiously gazed at each other, wondering how those questions made them so excited, too.

Now Ahab showed them a 16-dollar bright coin while ordering Starbuck to fetch the hammer to him. Upon receiving the hammer, Ahab promised that whoever kills the white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow, crooked jaw, and with three puncture holes on its right side can have the gold coin.

As Ahab described the whale they’ll look out for, Tashtego, Daggoo, and Queegqueg looked more intense and surprised than the rest, as if they were already familiar with that whale.

Tashtego asked if that same whale is the infamous “Moby-Dick” and has a big fan-tail; Daggoo asked if that whale has a big spout, thick, and mighty quick; and Queegqueg asked if the harpoons lied all twisted and wrenched in that whale like a cork-screw. Ahab joyously confirmed all these descriptions they said about the whale.

Afterwards, Starbuck, with Stubb and Flask, asked him if Moby Dick wasn’t the one who ate off their captain’s leg. In reply, Ahab claimed that it was Moby-Dick who took off his leg, and thus, who made him lame. He eagerly added that he will never stop until he sees Moby-Dick dead! Moreover, he said this is what all of them have shipped for.

All approved with excitement, and so Ahab ordered the Steward to take out and pour grog. All were excited except for Starbuck. He said he shipped to hunt whales, not for the captain’s vengeance. In addition to that, he said that vengeance won’t even give them extra profit in the market. 

Ahab closed at him and told him that if money’s to be the measurer, then his vengeance will give his heart the premium! Moreover, the things unseen (like vengeance and satisfaction) are more important than the material things and guineas. And, if the sun has insulted him, Ahab stated that he’ll insult back. Finally, he said that all of them are in one with him already, so Starbuck can’t really oppose the captain now.

A guinea in the 1800s (1813) on Moby Dick Chapter 36 summary.
A guinea in the 1800s (1813).

At the end of this, Starbuck murmured: “God keep me!―keep us all!” Ahab didn’t hear him. After all that, everything was back to normal sailing. 

But shortly, Ahab took the drink from Steward. And then ordered everyone to draw their weapons, and to form a circle around him and around his three mates near the capstan. He searchingly eyed every man of his crew. Next, he gave the filled-up flagon to the nearest seaman and ordered each one of them to take a long drink and pass onto the seaman beside him. 

Afterwards, he ordered them all to cross their lances full before him so that he could touch the axis. Meanwhile, he intently glanced at Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask. As a result, both Stubb and Flask looked sideways from him, while Starbuck looked down, as if they took a full-force shock from Ahab.

Now, he ordered his three harpooneers to hold their harpoons up before him. While they did this, Ahab filled up their harpoon’s sockets with the fiery waters. Then he ordered them all to drink and swear that they’ll hunt Moby Dick to his death. Starbuck paled, turned, and shivered. 

In the end, the crew dispersed as Ahab waved his hand to them, and went into his cabin.

End of Moby Dick Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck (summary).

Next Chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 37: Sunset (summary)

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